The Alliance of British Drivers has submitted evidence to Parliament’s Transport Committee inquiry into road safety. Subsequently, the Committee expanded the inquiry to seek evidence on how to reduce the high accident rate among young and novice drivers which is a known problem.
The ABD welcomed the opportunity to give its views on the reasons for the high accident involvement of young drivers and how to address them. Our evidence drew heavily on the work of Stephen Haley, the author of Mind Driving, in which he explains why the ways drivers think and their attitudes to risk are the most important factors in determining their safety on the roads. He has also written a series of papers that explain the difficulties faced by young and novice drivers in the period immediately after passing the driving test. These can be downloaded from his website (http://www.skilldriver.org).
While young drivers have a high crash risk, that risk falls sharply during their first two years of driving. This is because new drivers are being forced to think for themselves and are beginning to manage risk. In an unstructured way, specific skills are being gained that are about hazard control and making risk safe. This area of competence is currently neglected in learner training, which is the core weakness that creates the casualties.
The key skills that experience builds can be taught. If the following three topics were introduced into pre-test tuition, the risks to novice drivers would be reduced dramatically:
- Mental skills and how these work alongside vehicle control and the Highway Code to achieve good and safe driving.
- Risk management, by teaching the active control of danger.
- Teaching pupils how to learn from experience.
The ABD does not support restrictions on novice drivers, such as limiting the number of passengers they can carry or prohibiting them from driving at certain times of the day. While peer pressure from young passengers can encourage new drivers to behave unsafely, teaching them to resist this pressure should be part of their risk management tuition.
A change of attitude is required within the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which sees driving after the test as behaviour to be controlled rather than skills to be developed. The ABD strongly supports the adoption of a positive approach to post-test training, based on the principles set out in Mind Driving.
The ABD’s full evidence can be downloaded from the Transport Committee’s website at: https://tinyurl.com/yy86nrr9